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Driving on the Other Side (Part 29)

February 15, 2014

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Bender couldn’t sleep in anticipation of his big day. He was up and ready, it was only 5:00 AM, so he packed his bags, loaded the Taurus station wagon (fish rig) , then waited for Jack in the Kitchen, making coffee and toast. Jack appeared in fine form, in green loden from head to toe, he was ready for the morning’s fishing, he always eat after fishing, not before. On the drive up stream, Billy told Jack about the large Yellow Mayflies that he saw the night before, and how the trout were keying in on them, slurping them from the surface.  Jack, ” Oh yes, we use to go out in the late evenings when Ann was younger, and it was always a treat to hook a few with those small “canary flies”, but it’s been sometime that I’ve fished that late, not as young as I use to be Billy, must be a bit safer these days. Jack pulls into a new part of the river that Billy did not see the day before and parks just feet from the river. Both men exit the Land Cruzer, Jack ask Billy which direction he would prefer, Billy says he’ll go down stream and fish back up to the car, and Jack would start right there and work his way up above.

It was just starting to get light, there were Caddis hatching and flying about, it was easy to see what would work as far as flies were concerned. Jack hooked a nice trout on about his 5th cast, he was pleased, he hoped that Billy might notice. Bender had walked downstream and found a rather large pool, with trees and bushes over hanging the deepest part, he was certain there must be huge brown trout hiding under the branches. He waited for sometime before he saw a very small rise, just where he thought he might see one, right against the bank, under a large tree branch, just where the current started to straighten. Bender moved very slowly and quietly from below where he spotted the rise, getting close enough in order to make a perfect presentation. Then, again, the fish came to the surface to feed, Billy had him dialed in, and made the cast, the size 14 CDC Caddis floated right at the spot where Billy saw him feed. Very slowly a nose appeared and sucked in the high floating fly. Bender was surprised on the size of this enormous brown trout, it leaped out of the water, so high in fact that it rapped itself over the branch that it was hiding under, and quickly broke off. It all happened so fast, it was hard for Billy to take in, but, Bender thought the fish would have gone at least 6-7 lbs. Jack on the other hand was having much better luck, landing five trout, the largest around 3lbs, and the smallest around 1 lb, but, all nice, healthy brown trout.

Bender couldn’t concentrate, he kept thinking he’d better get going,  pop the big question to Jane. His mind was racing, a ring, well, better to buy one back home, get one she really wants and not something I pick out, or I’ll never hear the end of it, he thought. He started to head back to the Land Cruzer and to check up on Jack, who was on the same page and walking down stream toward the truck. They put the rods up, then proceeded back toward the house.  Jack, “so, how did it go? Any good ones Billy?” Bender, ” tell tell you the truth, I hooked a very nice brown who jumped so high it rapped me on a branch, that was my morning,  how about you?  On the drive back to the house Jack explained to Billy just how sorry Heddy and he were with Ann being so pre-occupied, and how they both wish things could have worked out.

After a hearty breakfast, Billy was ready to move south, take Highway 8 all the way to Queenstown, and find out the best way to hook back up with Jane and Kelly. Cell service was very spotty, only working in some places, Billy would need to investigate just how he was going to pull this little move off, because now, he knew he wanted to marry Jane , and be with her for the rest of his life. What he did not consider, did Jane want to be with him, forever..?

After hiking straight for six hours, the girls were getting a bit winded. Mark on the other hand was in great shape and knew if they did not slow him down , that he could get off the trail that day, or at least that night. They had hiked past the hut # 2 and were heading toward Hut # 3, they had around five more hours to make it to the 3rd hut. Both Jane and Kelly decided it was too much, that the Hut # 3 would be were they would sleep that night, and get out and off the trail the following day.  Once the trio got to the third hut, they found out that at Sand fly Point, where the ferry comes to take you back to Queenstown , leaves at 2:00 PM , and only 2:00 PM , and the name Sand Fly Point, was named that for a good reason, it was no place to camp! The trio felt very lucky, this way they could get up early and be at the ferry right at 2:00, and head back the next day. The 3rd Hut was crowded, and only a few beds were open, and the no see ums , and Sand flies, made sleeping outside impossible. Kelly turns to Jane and says, ” we can sleep together, wouldn’t be the first time Jane”. “OK, it’s so crowded in here that sleeping with MR Hard Cock might be a bad idea, I can wait a couple of nights, when we can be alone”. Kelly, “does that mean you two didn’t do it last night’? Jane, ” no, there were people walking around, it was not the place, of course he wanted to , but I said no, you’ve got to wait, and it is worth waiting for, he said no problem, and we kissed some then went to sleep. Funny, I really wanted to while we were hiking, then, last night, I started thinking about Billy, I wonder what he is up too anyway”?.

Driving on the Other Side ( Part 28 )

February 15, 2014

After cleaning up and changing clothes, Billy came down stairs to enter into “Cocktail Hour”, a nightly routine in the home of the Hunters. Both Jack and Heddy were dressed for dinner, and were waiting for their guest to make an appearance. Jack inquires, ” what will you have Billy?” Bender with a nice smile replies, “Red Wine, please”. The three sit and make small talk, the main topic is Fly Fishing, it is the, where’s, how’s, best fishing, Salmon vs Trout, etc…On the coffee table in front of the couch is a silver platter adorned with smoked Salmon, Wild Boar, and dried Red Stag. The polite small talk continues, until the phone rings, Heddy answers, it’s Ann, she wants to know everything. Heddy tells Ann about the great catch Billy had earlier, in detail, Ann is thrilled and wants to speak with Billy. ” Oh, that is just wonderful, your largest trout ever, on my River? That is so great! Wish I could have been there, it would have been so much fun!” Came from an excited Ann Hunter. ” Billy, the reason I’m calling is to let you know , that I’m having to Fly to France for another photo shoot, it’s some promotional shoot for the movie, and unfortunately, I cannot say no, so I’m off in a couple of hours, flying straight from Sydney. I’m very sorry, I’m just so busy right now, it would have been a blast, hope you understand”, came from Ann. Billy replied, ” no problem, your parents are fantastic, I’m having a great time, just wish you could have been here, but, maybe another time”. Jack and Heddy looked at each other,they knew what that meant, Ann wasn’t coming, and Billy was leaving.  Billy handed the phone to Jack so he could say good night, Heddy with tight white colored lips says to Billy, ” I’m so sorry for both of you, the girl is just so busy right now, I wish she could slow down some, but I guess she has to do what she has to do, oh well.

The dinner was a lamb stew, it was spectacular, the conversation not so much, all three were extremely disappointed, and Jack finally said to Billy, ” you know your welcome to stay as long as you’d like, Heddy and I both enjoy your company, and it’s nice to have a guest for a change of pace. If you’d like to stay and fish, your more than welcome, we both mean this sincerely, it’s up to you”. With a half smile, Billy says, ” thank you both, your great host, I feel like I need to meet up with some old friends who are hiking the Milford Track, they should be just about through, I could head over that way and meet them at the Trails end and surprise them. If you don’t mind, I would really enjoy wetting a line in the early AM , then head out before mid-day”. Jack, ” of course, do you mind if I join you in the AM, I’d enjoy to fish with you once again before your off”. Bender snaps, ” Jack, that would be great, I’m off to bed, see you in the wee hours, say 6:00?” Jack and Heddy both say goodnight and head off to bed, Billy goes outside for a walk down by the river.

It’s a Moonlit night, calm, and warm, rare for a summer night in New Zealand. Sitting on the grassy bank above the cool waters of the Hunter, Bender can hear trout slurping some kind of bugs from the surface of the water. In the light of the Moon, he can now see rings where the trout were feeding, and just like a few nights earlier at Kate’s pond, Billy can see huge Yellow Mayflies hatching and flying off the river like poor flying helicopters.

Bender’s mind is not on fishing, but rather on women, two in particular. Jane, and Ann, at this point it looks like Ann was just a fantasy, beautiful, talented, athletic, successful, and worldly. Due to her age, and job demands, Ann was not realistic option, unfortunately they met at a time that just wouldn’t work, as Billy thought of what might have been, it just wasn’t going to happen. But, on the other hand, Jane re-enters Benders life at a time where Billy thinks he just might be ready now to spend the rest of his life with the most Beautiful women he has ever known. This could work, and of all the women Billy Bender has ever known, Jannie was the one who he never could forget. They were two peas in a pod, mutt and jeff, ying and yang… That was it, tomorrow he would drive to the Trail head of the Milford Track and find Janie and Kelly, and see if this could work, would Jane Greenfield  be the one, after all these years, it looked like it was just meant to be, why else would he re-unite with her at the end of the earth?

Kelly awoke with the sun, the other hikers were still sleeping in their bunks, on her way to the outhouse, she spots the two sleeping bags that are parked together under a large tree near the creek. “Janie, Jane, Janiiieee” came from the curious Red head, who wanted to know what exactly what transpired the night before. A head of blonde hair simi rises off her pillow, to see Kelly standing over her with a wad of Toilet paper in hand. ” What time is it”?, as the blonde hair returns to the comfort of small white pillow. “Kelly, what are you doing up so early, we have a short day hiking today, lets sleep some, go back to bed”. A frustrated Kelly replies, ” I can’t, I’m up, lets get going before the sand flies and no-see-ums wake up, they were just awful yesterday, maybe we could hike out today if we start early, come on Janie. Lets go sleep in a real bed, and eat some fresh seafood, have a nice bottle of wine, lets get going!” Mark is up and listening to the conversation, he pipes in, “well, we could do the big hike out, but that means getting going now, and hiking all day, but we could do it, long day, but it can be done”. Kelly, ” hear that Jane, we can be out of here today, lets do it, lets get going”. Jane, ” OK, lets do it, I’m not digging these biting bugs, and the ground is a bit hard, and that is not the only thing that is hard”, Jane is giggling, at Kelly’s expense. The Three break camp in a hurry, and start their very long hike out, Kelly leads the way.

Driving on the Other Side ( Part 27 )

February 14, 2014

missouririvermontanaflyfishing:

It turns out that Jack Hunter was a very serious Fly Fishermen. That early evening, Billy and Jack set up their fly rods, tied on new tippets, and choose flies to start the session. Jack had driven them both up stream, in the older model land cruzer, some two miles to a lovely glide of a pool that was tree lined on the far side of the river, and clear casting on their side, with only short grass in the back cast. It was an easy part of the stream to read, the current for the most part, ran along the far bank, most of the good trout would be holding in the current, either under over hanging branches, or, in the deepest part of the run. Both men sat on the bank to observe the situation, in hopes of finding a surface feeding trout. The sun had just started to set, but, it was still good light to see, when Jack pointed and said ” there, did you see it? Just about half way down the bank, it was a very large trout. It looked like he fed on a Sedge”. Bender replies, ” yes, I agree, it looked huge, nice take on the surface, caddis take for sure”. ” OK my boy, your up, lets see what your made of”, came from a confident Jack Hunter. Billy, moved into the water from well below where the two had spotted the rise. He moved slowly and quietly in position in order to get the good cast and drift. He checked his knot and his # 14 CDC Caddis fly, he pulled his line off the reel and began to cast. Jack was startled at the line speed, the tight loops, and the accuracy in which Billy presented the fly just a few feet above where the two had spotted the rise. Billy is an excellent Fly Fishermen, and Jack took notice. The first cast was perfect, the fly landed straight and soft just three feet above where the large fish was last seen, it was dead on, a perfect drift, just as the anticipation was at it’s zenith, a nose appeared and the trout eat the white wing imposter. Bender set the hook on cue, and the battle began, the enormous brown trout was air-born that instant it felt the hook. Jack jumped up off the bank and yelled,” Well done”, Billy was in the zone, completely in focus with the fight in hand. The golden brown beauty made some fast runs up and down the bank, but never did try to leave the pool. Within minutes, Bender had his hand under the belly of the largest brown trout he had ever caught. Jack was in the water next to him with full approval of the task that was just completed. Jack barked out,” what a beauty, well done, that was quite a show!”, Billy had the trout just above the surface of the water in complete admiration of such a spectacular specimen. Jack announced ” this trout must be a good 12 lbs!, At least!” Billy squatting in the river, turned and looked at Jack and said ” Thank You, this is the best trout I’ve ever caught”. Just then, Bender faced the mammoth into the current, moved it’s tail in a back and forth until the giant slipped back into the dark green pool of the Hunter River, to give another person the thrill of a lifetime.

On the drive back to the house it was dark, the headlights jilted up and down, illuminating the rough, gravel road, that had endless rabbits scouring off the sides and into the darkness. There was a calmness within the two men, a sense of comfort that words were not necessary, instant friends. Heddy was at the back door with a huge smile, to welcome them back, and see how the fishing concluded. The tall elegant beauty asked,” Any Luck?”, Jack kissed Heddy on the cheek and said , ” I witnessed something tonight, I’m not sure I will ever see again. A 12lb brown trout caught with a Dry Fly on the first cast , brought to hand in record time. Mr Bender is quite a Fly Fishermen, maybe the best I’ve ever seen”.

The girls were getting a bit weary from the long days hike, and were looking forward to getting to the Hut so they could rest and get something to eat. It had been raining off and on during the hike, and the temps went from warm to cool, to warm to cold, throughout the duration of the day. It was rain coats on, then off, then on, it seemed better with the coats on due to the sand flies that were constantly biting any exposed skin they could dig into. Mark was in great shape and hiked with a fast pace, going head and having to wait for the girls to catch up.

Jane and Kelly both were warn out when they finally approached the steps of the wooden hut, a square wooden building that was small but cozy. Inside was a very small kitchen, and three sets of bunk beds, the bath was an out house about 25 yards away. No running water, but near all the huts were small streams with crystal clear water to cook with or drink. Kelly collapsed on the first bed she found vacant, ” oh my god, I’m so tired I’m not sure I want to even eat”, exclaimed the tall redhead. Mark was there ahead of the girls and had started cooking well before their arrival .  Jane was wondering where Marks pack was, ” Mark, where are you sleeping” asked the ever gorgeous Jane. Mark, “outside, it’s such a warm night, and the clouds have cleared off , I thought it might be more fun to sleep out “, Jane perks in with a ” Perfect, I’ll join you” Mark asks, ” anyone for a glass of wine”? Both girls light up with a lively “YES”, and the three toast to making the first leg of the trek.

Originally posted on Missouri River Montana Fly Fishing:

 

It turns out that Jack Hunter was a very serious Fly Fishermen. That early evening, Billy and Jack set up their fly rods, tied on new tippets, and choose flies to start the session. Jack had driven them both up stream, in the older model land cruzer, some two miles to a lovely glide of a pool that was tree lined on the far side of the river, and clear casting on their side, with only short grass in the back cast. It was an easy part of the stream to read, the current for the most part, ran along the far bank, most of the good trout would be holding in the current, either under over hanging branches, or, in the deepest part of the run. Both men sat on the bank to observe the situation, in hopes of finding a surface feeding trout. The sun had just…

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Electric Midges 2014

February 3, 2014

 

On the Missouri River below Holter Dam, there is 35 miles of some of the most productive water for both Trout , Rainbows and Brown Trout, plus Walleye, and a few Ling Cod, in addition to thousands of Whitefish. The reason for such a rich diversity and shear numbers are mainly due to such  prolific aquatic insect life. On the Missouri there is one insect that hatches every month of the year, Midges. These small aquatic insects are the building blocks for the over all mass of the Missouri river. It makes sense that one of the top flies for fishing, in fact, are midge patterns.

In the 2013 season, I was having excellent luck with clients using a size #18 purple lightening bug. From my success with this fly, I started experimenting with similar patterns, changing forms and colors, until I started using these flies below:

Electric Midges

Electric Midges

These are very small, flashy, midge patterns that seemed to work very effectively on the Missouri River, due to the color ” light green” of the river. Algae, floating weeds, exo skeletons of hatching insects all contribute to the slight color of the water. One of the main flies of the river is the Zebra Midge, a high contrast fly that is black and silver. In the past years it was a go to fly that always seemed to work from boat ramp to boat ramp. But last year I felt that at times the Zebra wasn’t as effective as in years past, oh yea, it worked, but not always. That’s when I started using these Electric Midges, similar to the Zebra, in that they are high contrast flies, but, different colors and shapes seemed to do the trick. Changing fly sizes and colors usually kept the fish interested, but there was a few things that seemed to be a constant: ribbing of silver or gold was important, and either silver or black beads. The color combination of the bodies could be , green, tan, black, purple, blue, or red, but to keep the fly flashy and high contrast, more important than body color was the ribbing and bead color.  Silver for both gave more contrast in the flies profile, but I found that with the darker body colors, a black bead worked fine along with either gold or silver ribbing.

Try these flies, I think you’ll see that you’ll like them, and try different colors to see what works for you. Here are some close ups:

Electric Midge

 

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End Of The 2013 Season, Missouri River Montana

November 21, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

End of the 2013 Season

What a great end to a wonderful season, 2013 was a stellar year on the Missouri River. The season started in March, with a very strong start, Dry Fly fishing with Midges, and today November 14th, the Midges are hatching just as strong , if not stronger than they were in March.
We were fortunate this past Spring having low, clear water, which enabled great fishing with Midges, Baetis, and Skwala Stoneflies. Some years on the Missouri the water is high and dirty, limiting the dry fly opportunities, this past Spring was a real exception. April fishing was spectacular and just got better and better once the warmer days of May arrived, bringing super hatches of Caddis, March Browns, Baetis, and Midges. I had some afternoons in May that I will never forget, fishing for just a few hours wade fishing in water that was not more than a few inches deep and hooking very large Rainbows and Browns that would explode out of the shallows with the speed and power similar to Bonefish racing off a shallow flat.

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June fishing was the Zenith of the 2013 season, the incredible hatches of Pale Morning Duns, Caddis, Baetis, Brown Drakes, Yellow Sally’s, Golden Stones and Midges, fishing was as good as Trout fishing can get, period. The one draw back to having such low water is that wade fishermen were all over the upper river, when I say all over, I mean in every spot that they could get to, they were there, in droves. This is mainly in the upper river, the lower river does not have the access that the upper river has. The lower river had different problems, fly fishing guides using motor boats. After 30 years guiding on the Missouri, I have to say, that for years, the Fly Fishermen on the Missouri have been trying to eliminate the use of  Motors from the Dam to Cascade. It is very disappointing to see Fly Fishing guides who now out number the spin fishermen using motors on the lower river. From Cascade North, or down stream , this is where the motors should be used, not Cascade up-stream, or South, this is in complete conflict with the Natural flow of drift boat fishermen floating down stream to the town of Cascade. For now, there are no takeouts below the town of Cascade until the boat ramp at the town of Ulm. This gives 15 miles of water for the motor guides to fish, there is no reason why, they are going going upstream to conflict with the drift boat fishermen. OK, got that out there, so the few who do use motors and conflict with the drift boat fishermen, my sediments are not alone, all the drift boat fishermen feel the same way, go below Cascade and everyone will be grateful!

This is what I saw this Morning, good way to start walking

This is what I saw this Morning, good way to start walking

The month of July we saw the water levels drop, on a year were we already had very low water. The water was just too low, the dry fly fishing was difficult, from the river being choked with weeds, and the amount of fishermen from the month of June. It was a shame, the hatches were as good as it gets, but the pods that we are use to seeing in July, just were not there. In July, we had amazing hatches of Trico’s, Caddis, and PMD’s . The Trico pods that we are use to seeing, absent, July fishing was not up to Par until at the end of the month when the water once again come up to a level where the fish felt more comfortable.
August was better fishing, there were a few pods eating Tricos, in spots, but not everywhere, fishing was not as good as it could have been, one really had to search for rising trout. Usually, in August we are saved by two things, Hoppers, and Trico’s. We had the Trico’s , but , not the huge pods, we did not have good numbers of hoppers. But, in August, this is a month where large Brown trout are caught on hoppers, this year was not an exception, large Trout, but not the numbers.
September fishing was quite good, we always see the return of the Grey Baetis ( pseudos) and the fish have Trico’s and  Baetis, some hoppers, and the constant Caddis. Nymph fishing is usually very strong in September, so, the hopper – dropper rigs worked fairly constantly. Water levels were better and looking back at July, the water levels were just disappointing.
October is maybe the best fishing month on the river for pods of rising trout. In October we always get some cold storms from the North come through, and this really turns the fish on, at times, just a feeding frenzy where the Trout just want to feed and it seems like nothing will stop them, not a large fly or even a bad cast.
The main hatches, Baetis and Caddis, the hatches of Baetis are impressive, at times the river surface is covered with the small Grey and Olive colored bugs.

Most years this starts just after our first storm, and continues through most years until Mid – November, or until the weather really gets ugly, sometime in November. I worked quite a bit this past month and most of October the fishing was excellent. I was impressed just how strong the fish were feeding, most times if the angler made a bad cast , lining the trout, the fish would just bulge, then continue feeding. The weather is cool for most of the month, but we do get many warm days, but it seems like on those cold days, the fishing is even better.
In October, fish will eat a streamer, nymph, or dry fly, take your pick, they all work. Most of my clients prefer to fish Dry Fly, but, if you want a huge trout, the streamer is the way to go.

>Ten Days Left to Bird Hunt
This season started with great Midge fishing, and ends again with great Midge fishing. I was out yesterday walking near the river with my black lab Pearl looking for Pheasants, the amount of midges were so thick that even wearing my buff, I was bothered by the small black buzzing bugs. Fish were rising, not in large pods , but were still feeding on top. What a great season, 2013 was a very special year!

Fishing Season ( March – October )

March 22, 2013

Fishing Season ( March – November ).

My Greatest Day Fly Fishing, Thus Far Anyway

March 16, 2013

>My Greatest Day Fly Fishing, Thus far Anyway A mod-me-squatting-with-bo                                                                                                   (Mark Daly)

OK, some people just love the month of December, Christmas, snow, shopping, and for some, the start of the Ski season. If I had to rate it on a scale from 1-12, 12 being the bottom, for me December would right there, near the bottom. Maybe not on the bottom, but close, more like # 11, January has to be the worst month in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s right, only half the globe lives in the darkness of winter, and December is the darkest month of all. So, why would I rate December over January? The bird hunting season closes Jan 1st, so, there are still some hunting days left in December, of course weather permitting… Looking back at the “dark month” brings back many memories that have nothing to do with darkness. I can remember many Decembers, that it was  the beginning of summer, long , warm , sometimes extremely hot days, going to the beach in Australia to watch a bikini contest, or hiking in the Mountains of New Zealand, sitting lakeside in southern Chile swatting enormous black and orange ‘horse fly’s’, drinking wonderful wines and eating empanadas.  And of course, fishing in Patagonia Argentina, walking and casting up-stream to rising trout sipping on Mayflies, in back eddy’s under the intensely green willows that grow along the river’s edge. For half the planet, this time of year is summer, the longest days of all twelve months. I have spent 14 out of the last 20 seasons in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoying the warmth of long summer days. Still, I would have to say that December ranks near the bottom on the scale of 1-12. From a fishing perspective, December can be the best month to have incredible trout fishing in the Southern Hemisphere; it is the equivalent to our June here in Montana. Some years June is by far the most productive month; it is dependent on one thing, water levels. It is the same for December south of the Equator, water levels are crucial for trout fishing. It is a real” hit, or miss “circumstance that can be epic when it all comes together. Case in point, I was living on the Traful River in Southern Patagonia in 1997, it was in December, about this time of the month. There were no clients staying at the lodge, and no body was scheduled for another week or so.  I awoke that morning to a perfect sunny, high pressure, windless day. I was eager to get down to the river to start fishing, and decided to walk the mile or so to the rivers edge and work myself down stream and end up at the best pool , the “Gate pool”. (La    Tranquera).  I was married at the time, and told my wife (Magdalena) that I’d be at the gate pool at 2:00 and please come and pick me up for lunch. She said she would, and she would come early to do some fishing there as well. It was one of those ‘magical” days, if you fish long enough and hard enough , you might get to experience something like this day, if you are very lucky!

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( I started at the top of the photo in the faster water. Larger salmon hold in the pool.)

I started the day in a “run” that holds land locked Atlantic salmon. This river has some that have been caught, up to 18 lbs., most are in the 4-7 lb range, a large Salmon would be 8-12 lbs . In this run , I have never seen any over  5 lbs, and on this wonderful morning I was lucky to land two in the smaller size, both around 3 lbs. It was a good start, but, I felt like it was going to be really a special day so I kept moving down stream. I passed on some water that is difficult to get a proper drift, and concentrated on only the ‘hot spots”. The next run down, I “bumped” another salmon, but, I was too wound up and set the hook to0 soon, I kept moving. Just below here I rolled another salmon, then, caught my first rainbow of the day, a 4 lb hen that fought very nice. I moved down and made a good cast down and across the run and quickly was into a good-sized rainbow buck of around 5 lbs. I was really wound up by now and had to” reel in” and walk around the “‘falls”. I stopped to look at the white cascading water crashing over the terraced granite outcroppings forming the falls. What a sight, and what a spectacular day. I was thinking, maybe I should just skip this water and walk down to the “Tranquera” and try for some huge trout. I had been fishing with a hi -d sinking tip, and was thinking of changing lines to a floating Weight Forward. This would allow me to either nymph fish, or fish large dry flies. For now this water below the falls would be much easier to continue with the sink tip, and so I did. First cast, 3.5 lb rainbow, I got him in quickly, and made another three cast , boom, a gorgeous brown that was close to 4 lbs. after several more cast , nothing, time to move, I did not want to waste time just fishing water, it was not a day for that.

Part 2 December, Sun, Fun, and Huge Trout (Just Below the Falls)

After the falls, the water is a long quiet pool for around 300 yards; it holds nice sized browns and salmon. The water was just a little bit high to get in and fish it properly, so I skipped this stretch and moved down toward “La Tranquera”. It was about another 10-15 minute brisk walk past riffle water that would have been also just a little fast to fish and get a drift. I changed lines by the side of the river, just above the gate pool, out of the wind, to rest just for a minute, and , to look at the water near the shore known as the “Pisci”. Here if one takes the time, one can see huge mouths coming to the surface to feed on stoneflies, mayflies and caddis, but, one has to really look to see them. The surface is broken riffle water and the bottom is covered in a dark-colored moss. It takes a trained eye to spot these trout, in between the small waves created by the water pounding over the “bowling ball” sized rocks. I tied on a “Traful Wasp”, in a # 8, a black rubber legged, foam fly, with an elk hair and crystal flash wing. It was 1997; we were fishing a lot of similar flies, and developing many other patterns that have different names today. I started at the bottom of the run, it is only around 50-75 yards long, and at times the fish are stacked in this area. The water is shallow, at the deepest maybe 3 ft deep, most of the run is between 1.2 -2.5 ft in depth. I took 6 very nice trout, 5 rainbows and one brown, all between 4-7lbs, on the “wasp” in around 45 minutes. It was the best I’d seen in that run, it was just the day, and I had not even cast a fly into the best water, La Tranquera pool.

Part 3 December, Fun , Sun and Huge Trout

                                          (Happy Angler with a large Traful River Rainbow, Gate Pool)

 Now, it was only around noon when I finished my Dry Fly fix, and it was time to try for some very large trout. In December on the Traful, large “lake run” fish are passing throughout the river system. The Traful is a good-sized river, but it is only a tributary to a much larger river the” Limay”, which also is “born” from a huge lake, south of here around 38 miles near the town of Bariloche . So, the Traful river starts from a lake ( Lago Traful) , and it is a relatively short river , around 20 miles long before it enters into the Rio Limay, inwhich started up-stream from a lake around 38 miles. Now, where the Traful enters the Limay, is yet another lake formed from a dam just around ten miles down stream, the actual moving Limay river is south or, up-stream  just a couple of miles , but , all three lake systems are connected. A trout born in Lago Traful, or a tributary coming into the lake, can swim down stream, and swim back upstream through the Rio Limay to enter an enormous lake with rivers flowing into it, they are all connected. The two older lakes are eco systems within themselves, with lake trout, brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. Funny, they tried in the early 1900′s  to introduce ” Whitefish”, but they did not survive , because their mouths were so small and could not feed on the local crayfish ( Pancora crabs), that are found in amazing abundance, in Chile and Argentina. Due to the abundance of food, and the enormous size of the lakes, the fish grow to incredible sizes. The brook trout use to be caught up to 15 lbs, giant brown trout and rainbows are caught every year. On the radio going into Bariloche , I remember hearing about  somebody that was fly fishing who had caught a brown trout in the mouth (Boca) of the Limay river, that was well over 20 lbs. Fly fishing is a big sport in this part of the world, it has a long and rich history, much like our American West.

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(Lago Traful)

I decided to fish the Gate pool with heavy, good-sized nymphs. I know what you’re thinking; why not dry flys, com’on, whats with the nymphs. But, we are talking about very large trout, the problem was, that the water was moving with a heavy current, most of the bigger fish were in the “slots” where the water was deepest, holding on the bottom, and you could see them from time to time move and take a nymph. In order to allow the trout to see the fly, in this deeper, fast-moving water, it made sense. I had developed some “prince” style nymphs that were tied on very heavy curved hooks (size # 6 and #8), with the largest beads made to help get the nymphs down to the fish. (This was before Tungsten was available). The problem was , the water is “gin clear”, the fish are feeding on stonefly nymphs, but the hook needs to be heavy enough not to bend out, and the tippet must be strong enough to hold the giants. Indicators needed to be small not to spook the trout, but float well enough to be able to get a decent drift.There were a lot of factors going into the preparation of the equipment, and I felt like I had it all together. To give the fish a chance , I was using a Sage 9-#6, a light rod for this type of fishing, but perfect for the fish I was catching earlier.

I started from the shore and cast into the first current line, this run usually holds quite a few fish, and this day was no exception. I hooked and landed four rainbows from 3–5 lbs and the largest was near 5 lbs. In this run the water is a bit slower than out in the middle and on the slot just off the far bank. The depth is varying from 3 ft to 5 ft. Just on the other side it shallows again to around 2.5 ft, where you can wade up and down the pool. The entire pool is 100 -130 yards long, with the top of the run and bottom both being the shallowest.

After releasing all of the four fish, I slowly waded in where I just fished. The water came close to the top of my waders, but I stayed dry and made it to the shallow gravel bar and started casting upstream with the extra large prince nymphs into water that is very fast and shallow, but most of time holds good-sized trout.  It was amazing , the amount of fish holding in the shallows, nearly every cast I was hooking up, most bolted out of shallows throwing the big hooks, and jumping free, again and again, like the fly was still attached. But, I managed to land 3 or 4 that were all nice sized, 3-6 lb trout, one brown and the rest rainbows.  I had on a stonefly I’d tied with a saltwater hook, just to make sure it would be strong enough, and I was using 1x maxima, for insurance. I made a cast upstream and a little more towards the middle, but still in the shallows, the line tightened and I really set the hook. At first, I thought it might have been the bottom, it was heavy like I’d hooked a boulder, then the boulder moved, I knew it was not an average fish. The monster was 20 ft upstream of me, and I could not even budge it. I started moving towards it and reeling fast, knowing that it would be making a quick move to get to deeper water, I was ready. The giant copper-colored brown came straight up and out of the water 3 feet into the air, bending and shaking, I can remember seeing the red flaring from its gills, it seemed like the fish was in the air for a long time. When it landed, it ripped line off my reel so fast, all I could do was hold on to the 6wt. Sage and wish I’d brought a much heavier rod. In less than a few seconds the monster was 80 yards below me, 3 feet out of the air once again, then, the line went slack. I was numb, all I could do was hold the rod and watch the Goliath jump, and jump, and jump further down stream with my #6 prince nymph hanging from the side of his mouth. For a second I felt sick, then I caught myself, com’on, it’s not like your having a bad day! But, I’d take one monster over all the other trout that I’d released earlier that day.

My best estimation of that Brown was it had to be at least 18lbs; it was the largest trout that I have ever hooked. I brought the line in to examine what could have gone wrong.  On the trouts first run, it was so powerful and strong, that 1x maxima was no match for the boulders that the lay on the bottom of the river. I knew that I was going to have to step it up a notch to land one of these truly enormous fish. I went to shore to and found some 15lb maxima, and after digging around the 20lb appeared. Ok, now, let them try to break this.

Part 3 December, Fun , Sun and Huge Trout

(Right behind Barbara is where I hooked all three “monsters”. This photo was taken in February, when the water is much lower). (Gate Pool)

Now ready with some really strong tippet ( 20lb Maxima) I waded back out on this fine December day to see if I could land one of the” big boys”. I started where I left off, casting up-stream with the special Prince nymph tied on a # 6 saltwater hook. I was not getting the action I was earlier, the flies were floating downstream, without being molested, I started casting up and out toward the middle of the run. The sun was straight up above; the light was penetrating and breaking through the surface of the water illuminating everything in its path, straight to the bottom. I could now see some log like figures holding on the bottom looking like missiles, their elongated shapes moving ever so slightly to take in a passing stonefly nymph. The clarity of the water made the depth difficult to determine, but, I could see the darkish green flies were just not getting down to the correct level to be seen. I added some weight, and cast further upstream to allow the “bugs” to bounce along the boulder latten bottom. It took a few casts, but finally the line tightened, the fish who did take was not one I was watching, but rather another trout that was further up-stream. I could tell it was a very heavy fish, it would not budge, it was in deeper water than the last trout that sped off to get out of the shallows, and this one was moving right to left, nervously, not knowing where to go. I was in waist deep water in an extremely heavy current; I wanted to move back into more shallow water in case I had to follow this brute down stream. As I stepped backwards, I slipped on one of the “greased bowling balls”, but, caught myself before falling. My movement allowed the line to come up slack for a second, as it did; the golden beauty leaped eight feet sideways toward the bank on the other side.  Another brown trout, an equal to the last, but, this one looked heavier and shorter in length. It made its run cutting through the water downstream, at a diagonal, dissecting the pool and heading for the shore behind me, in a very deliberate move.

I thought at first this was strange behavior, why would it head toward the shore and not try to escape downstream. Just then, the line became much heavier, it was wrapped around the only log in the entire run. The huge golden-colored brown trout was slashing and jumping until it became free. There was nothing I could have done, the fish won, it was the second fish in the last hour that kicked my ass, both being the two largest trout that I’d hooked up to that time.

Upon examining the equipment, I quickly noticed that the fly was still attached, at least the tippet held, but looking more closely, I noticed that the saltwater hook was completely “bent out”, Shit, I can’t win today, I guess something’s got to give, I was beginning to take this personally, I needed to focus, how many chances could I have?

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(Magdalena Bustillo)

I looked into my fly box and saw a fly, that was similar to the flies I was using earlier, but it was tied on an extra stout hook, made for large steelhead. With this fly and the 20 lb maxima, I felt like I had my “mojo” back and was ready for bear! I waded back to the spot where I hooked the last monster and saw the other large shapes that were holding near the bottom. I was working on one of the elongated shapes, casting upstream and watching the new fly that was nearly in the zone. Just as I cast somewhat further up-stream to get the bug down to the correct level, I heard something behind me. It was my wife at the time, Magdalena, “Que Tal Che”, she greeted, catching any? She had her rod in hand and was heading quite noisily toward me wading out to where I was watching this grey ghost starting to notice my dark green bug. Whoa, Magda, wait, I’m just about ready to hook this really big trout, he’s… just then, the line tightened, “Damn” , said Magda, you have been fishing all day, and I haven’t even had a cast. She stormed out of the river, and was pacing on the bank. I told her to get the camera, this would be the largest trout she ever saw, we need pictures! She got the camera and just then, it came out of the water, straight up, at least five feet, it looked like a Tarpon, bending and slashing continuously until it landed on its side throwing water in every direction. “My god!”,exclaimed Magdalena, what is that? She started taking photos of the water in hopes of another spectacular jump. I told her to wait, there where only a few shots left (film, not digital). I had to concentrate, I wanted this one, I’d lost two earlier, this one was a rainbow, not a brown; this was a spectacular trophy trout.

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(“Magda”  on the Traful River)

I decided to hold my ground, not follow downstream, it was making a very long run, all the way to the end of the pool, I was getting near the end of my backing. I bent my rod parallel to the water’s surface, and toward my side of the river, this was it, either it was going to stay in the run, or it was gone. I held my ground and bent the small Sage to its breaking point; I could hear the graphite start to really stress, what was going to give this time? I asked myself, what this time? Just then, the Goliath turned and started back up into the Pool, it made three jumps in a row, with over 100 yards of bright red backing slicing through the water with each jump. I knew I had him, he was not getting away, not this one, he was going to be mine. I put the heat on him knowing that I had 20lb tippet and an extra stout hook, what else could go wrong? Then it hit me, the fly could “rip out”, Shit, I’d better be careful, just then rrrrreeeee… went the reel and he was off again, jumping and running, all the way down to the very end of the Pool, I turned him once again, and again he came back into the Pool. I moved over to the bank to get a good angle on him, and direct him over to the shallows. I told Magda to get ready, this was it, I had to land him now, or that big fly might just rip out. Again, I stressed the 6 weight Sage near its breaking point, and the giant rainbow complied, and held in the shallows. I grabbed the tippet, dropped the rod and took the gentle giant by the tail and put my other hand under his pectoral fins. As I lifted him gently out of the water, the fly fell from his mouth; it was landed just in the nick of time. Magda shot as many pictures as were left on the camera, six, as fast as she could. I then gently returned the beauty back to safety of the rushing water. He swam away strong and steady, and my ex-wife and I looked at each other, and both said the same thing, WOW!.

Part 3 December, Fun , Sun and Huge Trout

{The Rainbow, 33.5 inches in length, 24 inch girth}

When I woke that morning, I had a feeling it would be a special day on the river. I had no idea that I would be able to experience anything of this magnitude. It was without a doubt, the finest day trout fishing that I have experienced up until now. Ask me again in twenty years, who knows?

Part 1 , December, Sun , Fun, and Huge Trout

 I wrote this story as I remembered how that day started, and, finished, no exaggerations on fish numbers or sizes. My wife at the time (Magdalena), was a good sport about allowing me to fulfill, and complete a fantasy day fishing. I was very glad she came when she did, for one, to be able to share at least the climatic finish to an absolutely unbelievable fishing day.  And, second, for helping with the taking of the photos, I’m sure  it would have been a very disappointing to have photos of such a once in a lifetime spectacular trout, shot on the wet shore, laying on its side, flopping around with no real scale for size,  instead I have photo’s of the best Rainbow trout I’ve ever landed. For that, thank you Magda!

Just so you know, even on this river, I have never seen the fishing as good as it was that day. All the Planets and Stars where in perfect alignment, the weather, water level, time of the year, and the run of fish, all happened on the same day. I did try to repeat that day, over and over, fishing as hard as possible. I went out the next day, and everyday for the remainder of the week. I had very nice fishing, and did catch some good trout, but, pale in comparison to this day. Later that year, or maybe the following year, Ted Turner purchased the “La Primavara”, the ranch that boarded the other side of the river. Since then, the fishing has never been the same on the World Class Rio Traful, that story is for another day…

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